Year-End Thoughts for Pastors to Think About

Year-End Thoughts for Pastors to Think About

What should pastors be thinking? That is the question I often ask myself. Notice I said what pastors should be thinking about. At this time of year, I’m lucky if a pastor even opens my emails! This is one of your busiest times of the year, but as we near the completion of this year and the start of the new one, I want to help direct your thoughts around these crucial areas that will better ensure a solid New Year. This Coach is entitled Year-End Thoughts for Pastors to Think About.

We are days from the end of 2023 and the start of 2024; what should you be thinking now? First, to help you think strategically, I recommend a time of review. If you have followed me for any length of time, you know that my coaching and advice are built around the various seasons in the life of a church. I think and plan quarterly. I wrote the following a few years ago that might be helpful in directing your thinking, especially when it comes to giving.

The Basic Elements of Quarterly Planning – Here is a basic outline that you can work through in your upcoming staff meetings or whatever lay group you work with.

Review – Everyone needs to know where you are. Your review should contain two elements. First, you need to review your giving. When you review, look at the following…

  • How much has been given to date, and how that compares to the budget need?
  • How did the last quarter compare year to date from last year?
  • Always look at how the past week compared to the same week last year and the previous week.
  • Then, finally, were there any new donors that showed up for the first time? Every church has a backdoor. This is why you need to continually think about and look for new donors. The number of losses compared to gains is what we call The Churn Rate. How is yours?

The second element of your review is to look at what you did in the last quarter in terms of attempting to increase giving and givers. What worked? What did not work and why? What were the reasons something worked or did not work? How can you improve? What lessons can be learned?

Preview – Next, talk about what is coming up in the next quarter. What missions or ministry initiatives does your church have? What will be the focus for the three months coming up? Then, how can you build out a message to support those initiatives? Then, plan accordingly.

With this as a basic outline for your thinking, here are three thoughts I want you to think about as we near the end of one quarter and the beginning of another, but also nearing the end of one year and the start of another.

I first want you to think in these next few days about how to close out the current year well. See my Bonus Section for specifics on what to do to help ensure a good end to your giving year. December is the most charitable month of the year for non-profit organizations and for churches. A good plan can help you increase as much as a week’s offering. Closing out the year helps build momentum into the New Year.

At the same time, you need to be thinking about how to start the New Year out strong. While December will be your best-giving month, it is followed by one of a church’s worst-giving months, January. In my experience, the first six weeks will establish the course of your giving strategy for the rest of the year. If you fall behind in January, you will spend most of the year attempting to catch up. Let’s head that off with a good plan for the New Year.

Shameless commercial! After watching clients struggle through the first six weeks of the year, I wrote a playbook entitled Six Weeks to Giving Success: A Step-by-Step Plan To Start Your Giving Year Out Right. My goal with this playbook is to move people up the generosity ladder and solidify your first quarter giving by focusing on your church’s vision for missions and ministry. My playbooks give you everything you need with step-by-step directions. To get your copy, go to:

Finally, I want you to think about how you can best be prepared for the tasks ahead. Here is my suggestion for these last few weeks of the year, focus on recharging your batteries, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. One of the biggest mistakes I made as a pastor was thinking that I had to be everywhere all the time and preaching every Sunday.

I want you to embrace this truth: if your church can’t function without you being present, then you have not faithfully executed your duties. We are called to be “pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” If you can’t get away to spend time with yourself, your family, and most of all, with your Lord, then that is on you. The next few weeks are going to be hectic, but determine now you will set aside time for spiritual, emotional, and even physical recharging.

One final piece of advice: invest first and foremost in your marriage and your family. Plan some date nights with your spouse. Spend time playing with your kids. Find a deacon or elder to answer emergency calls and put your phone down. The most important field God has given you is your family. Spend time these next few weeks celebrating your family. It is one of the greatest things you can do this Christmas season.

That is my advice for how to think in these last few days of the year. As always, I’m here to help.

Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach

Missions and Ministry Moment (aka Offering Talk) – This week’s talk can be accessed afteryou register at:

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